Energy management company asks; will Brexit change UK low carbon legislation for good?

Energy management company asks; will Brexit change UK low carbon legislation for good?

Brexit has left a wake of recriminations, political confusion and nervous financial markets.

But when the dust eventually settles, the real work begins. This will include choosing which of the myriad, almost 1 million pages of EU environmental legislation we keep or reject.

The EU, for all its faults, is progressive on green law. Equally, whilst UK politics are hardly perfect, to date our low carbon legal drivers, in global terms, are doing well. The UK has some of the most forward thinking green laws anywhere on earth.

In our impartial analysis we consider whether these will grow tougher, stay the same, or be torn up now Brexit is here?

How much, if any, is UK carbon legislation set to change?

It is key to understand that rules already transposed into UK law are, and always were, already ours to alter, govern, or adjust as we see fit.

Therefore, if a law exists in UK stature, rather than simply being an aspirational EU aim we’ve yet to meet, then we had control over it before Brexit even happened.

Here are some good examples of these, pre-existing legislations and environmental programmes.


ESOS is a part of the EU Energy Efficiency Directive; it exists in UK law as ESOS Regulations 2014. Therefore, unless it is dismantled by our Government, ESOS will still affect UK businesses. Indeed, it could be expanded, as hinted at prior to Brexit in the Government’s energy taxation review.

5th Carbon Budget

Part of the UK Climate Change Act, which dates back some years now, the 5th Carbon Budget has just passed the Commons.
It provides the legal framework to hit UK 2050 carbon reduction targets. The measures to actually hit the goals may yet be lacking, but the goalposts themselves are world leading. Any new or existing Government would require nerves of steel to mess with this law.

Greenhouse Gas reporting

This too is part of the Climate Change Act. Reporting on these emissions is very unlikely to change. An uproar from NGOs and the low carbon lobby would meet any tampering with these rules.

Climate Change Levy

CCL is actually set to rise in the future, and is embedded deep in UK commitments that go all the way back to the Kyoto protocol.
CCL is a good example of how politicians lobbying on either side of Brexit made largely opaque, fact free or frankly incorrect arguments.

Might they have been better advised to use CCL as an example of pre-existing UK sovereignty?

Green legislation that could change following Brexit

Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC)

CRC is to be scrapped from 2019, the aim being to simplify energy taxation. But, remember, this was happening before Brexit anyway.

EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS)

If the UK doesn’t remain within the EU single market, which it yet could, then it is tough to see how this scheme would continue.

The UK could take part in ETS as a non-member. ETS shows how complex the negotiations and fallout from Brexit could be. For many laws, would we remain involved as a non-member, negotiate certain non-member requirements, or just go it alone, or forget the pre-Brexit scheme entirely?

EU renewable energy targets

In all likelihood the UK would be released from its renewable energy targets under the EU Renewable Energy Directive and from EU state aid restrictions.

This could give Government the ability to design and phase out renewable energy support regimes, in favour of energy efficiency technologies for example.

The final word

Plainly, any guide of this nature is open to change; no one can predict with surety what minds in Government will do. Here are a few quick links to some more detailed commentaries available:

Impact of a Brexit on the energy sector
What would Brexit mean for Britain’s green targets?
5 ways Brexit would transform European energy
Brexit; 94 unanswered questions for climate and energy policy

BG Energy Solutions is one of the leading energy management companies in the north of England. The above assumptions are based on our impartial analysis of current environmental policy. Read our news pages for more insights.

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